Prohibit jailing those who can't afford bail?
Jan 25, 2018
Rep. Brian Stone is the primary sponsor of a new bill, HB 1395, that requires courts to consider the financial resources of a person when setting bail. Under the bill, a judge could not jail someone just because he or she does not have money to pay bail. Instead, a judge could only jail a defendant if the judge finds by a "preponderance of the evidence" – at least 50% - that the person is a danger to the community or likely to miss the court date. Read more about this issue.
Should there be a law against jailing a person because they cannot afford bail, so long as the person is not a danger to the community or likely to skip court?
Discussion held on Citizens Count NH website and Facebook page January 10, 2018
What Participants Said
Yes: 106 people were in favor of prohibiting jailing a person because they cannot afford bail.
- “We are not supposed to be running debtor's prisons. Keep them in jail if they are a danger to others. If not, don't force taxpayers to house and feed them, and don't force those charged to lose their jobs if they have them.”
- “Bail should not be a punishment. A person should not serve time (almost a year wait for trial in most cases) just because they can't afford bail. They have not been convicted yet.”
- “Yes, you are supposed the innocent until proven guilty. Jailing someone before trial is wrong.”
No: 69 people were against prohibiting jailing a person because they cannot afford bail.
- “Don't need more laws, just don't get nasty when judges exercise judgement. If someone cannot afford bail, just waive bail. This is not rocket science.”
- “No. If you can't afford it too bad. There's a reason you were arrested. Maybe if you want to avoid sitting in a cell you should avoid illegal activities.”
- “No. Don't get arrested. Why require one person to pay bail but not someone else? Ridiculous.”
Other: 26 citizens addressed their comments to related questions and issues.
- Employment: “Broke in this economy? This economy is booming for anyone who wants to work. So much help wanted out there.”
- Additional factors: “All depends on the charge.”
- Bail in general: “Sounds like the real question then is what is the point of bail?”
*Editor selection of actual participant quotes.